If it ain’t broke…..

During our short stay in Lalwet last weekend, one of the most interesting conversations I had was with my host father. He not only kindly opened up his home to us, but also shared his experience of politics and social policy in Kenya. Having run for Kapkures County Representative, he had very clear views on which policies could actually help Kenyans and which were purely introduced tactically to gain votes during the elections.

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This year, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced plans to decrease Kenya’s digital divide with the rest of the world by giving laptops to all first graders – a policy, which my host father described as ridiculous. ‘if a poor child is hungry, has no shoes to walk to school and no access to electricity, what use will an uncharged laptop be to him?’ he exclaimed. ‘Why not use the money to guarantee a substantial meal for every child and give him a reason to turn up to school every day?’.

My host father’s protest against the utility of this policy resonated with a key topic raised during our Balloon Kenya training; an idea is only good if it is solving an existing problem. Creating a business solution to a problem that does not exist has no value and moreover, for our young entrepreneurs, will not result in a profit-making business. I was shocked and impressed that my host father as well as Doug and Josh could teach me the very same lesson, despite their very different life experiences. 

Written by Shivani Jethwa, 2013 Fellow

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